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This essay offers a summary of page 15 of the book “Middle Eastern Cities: A Symposium on Ancient, Islamic, and Contemporary Middle Eastern Urbanism,” by Lapidus Ira Marvin, which was published in 1969. This page mainly focuses on the city of Sippar, and explores whether it is typical of Mesopotamia. There is an expansion of the summary, as other similar thoughts, by different authors, on the text are integrated into the summary.
Mesopotamia was believed to have many cities. Therefore, it could have been possible to learn the history of urbanization and characteristics of Mesopotamia by studying its different cities. However, although these cities shared similar characteristics, one of them comes out as marginal, as it does not share similar characteristics with the other cities. This city is Sippar. This therefore, raises the question, “Is Sippar typical of Mesopotamia, for Babylon, even for Northern Babylon?” (Lapidus 15).
Different aspects make Sippar marginal. First, this city was characterized by a public granary, which other cities lacked. In addition, in Sippar, contracts dealing with the sale of houses, described houses as “ezibtu,” an indigenous word that means left behind. This might have special connotations about the city. Furthermore, land in Sippar could not be sold to strangers. This was not until when economic pressures compromised this directive. A major requirement had made real estate dealers in Sippar to be reluctant to sell all of their land, because in order to be fully realized as a citizen, you had to own a part of ezibtu. Nonetheless, this practice was unique to the other cities. These are among the major aspects that put a doubt on whether Sippar was typical of Mesopotamia.
While I only summarized the topic about Sippar, I expanded on the ideas with some additional research. I found two major books that addressed a related topic. These include “Mesopotamia Before History” by
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